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Frank Zappa - Hot Rats CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



4.34 | 1683 ratings

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4 stars What would make you more frightened: having a giant cockroach climbing out of your pool, or Frank Zappa? Given the album cover, I just might choose the cockroach! Fortunately, there's no need to run from the music.

Considering this was made in 1969, Hot Rats is a phenomenal album, coming out at the same time as many legendary debuts (though this isn't Zappa's first). We're a long way from I am the Slime here, and for me that's great news. There's a lot of diversity to be found, from the focused and entertaining intro tune to improv jazz numbers to the rocking jams. I think Zappa tends to be overrated to his followers, and underrated by everyone else, though I'm glad to see that Hot Rats gets proper respect.

Peaches En Regalia. Just an awesome mixture of melody, instrumentation and creativity, and in 1969? That's impressive. This is the most concise offering of the album, but just one of many highlights.

Willie the Pimp. Captain Beefheart delivers some memorable vocals, while Ponty keeps at that simple, killer riff. Then Zappa comes in for some enjoyable, greasy (as another reviewer expertly coined) guitar to take the song home. Downsides: there's a clicking sound near the beginning (and lasts a few minutes) that is really irritating if you pay attention to it, and there's no need for this song to be 8 minutes (and I'm not usually one to complain about extended soloing!).

Son of Mr. Green Genes. Probably my favorite from the album, this has enough diversity to warrant its 9 minute run time (unlike the previous tune). Great guitar and keyboard interplay, and it makes me happy every time I hear it.

Little Umbrellas. Zappa in jazz mode, and this is a great number featuring nice melody and tasteful horns.

The Gumbo Variations. It took me a while to get into this one, but now I think I can appreciate it fully. I assume that's Underwood on the sax, and he delivers some blistering tones. Then we have some violin, followed by some guitar. Sure, it's too long, but the whole band is really cooking for these 16 minutes, and this is definitely my kind of jazz fusion: with a funky edge.

It Must Be a Camel. The most experimental and improvisational piece, I could take or leave it. It's definitely entertaining, with some good guitar from Zappa and keyboard/horn harmonies, but it seems they were mailing it in a bit at this point.

I love this album, make no mistake. It's just not a masterpiece, given the extensive jamming, though I definitely think you should have it in your collection.

Flucktrot | 4/5 |


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